All the Truths We Cannot See: A Chernobyl Story

Follow the exceptional opera collaboration between Uniarts Helsinki’s Sibelius Academy and the USC Thornton School of Music.

Introduction

All the Truths We Cannot See: A Chernobyl Story is an opera by Uljas Pulkkis and Glenda D. Goss. It is produced as a collaboration between Uniarts Helsinki’s Sibelius Academy and the USC Thornton School of Music. Students from these institutions join forces in an opera production, which will premiere in Helsinki on 15 March 2022. The American premiere will take place in Los Angeles on 21 April 2022.

All the Truths We Cannot See: A Chernobyl Story explores the explosion that happened at a power plant in Chernobyl, Soviet Union in 1986, as well as its reasons and consequences.

Opera synopsis

In a pristine region where nature and animals have thrived for centuries, wildlife biologist Lana Fedorova is devoting her life to protecting species that have been hunted nearly to extinction, including a rare white deer. Ominously, in a nuclear plant nearby, the arrival of a new director, the ruthless and power-hungry Allura, rattles the staff and sets the stage for internecine strife between the zealous bureaucrat Borys Slykovitch and ambitious engineer Maksym (Max) Smirnov. 

When Allura learns that Max, who was her rival for the directorship, is to marry Lana, Allura’s little sister, she swears revenge. Max’s confidence is shaken, and on his next all-night shift at the station, an accident causes the meltdown of one of the reactors. In the ensuing catastrophe, the region and its people are poisoned, and the survivors are forced to evacuate their beloved town.

Months later, Max is summoned to headquarters by Party officials and learns that he can save his career only if he brings Allura the trophy head of a rare white stag. Interweaving through the human actions, the region’s Silver River and its animals have their say.

Performance dates

World premiere at the Sibelius Academy’s Sonore Hall on March 15, 2022
Additional performances on March 16, 18, 19, 21, 22

Tickets 18–39 €.

American premiere at USC’s Bing Theatre on April 21, 2022
Additional performances on April 22, 23, 24

Student cast

  • Svitlana Fedorova (Lana) – Maria Turunen (SibA) / Lily Smith (USC)
  • Maksym Smirnov (Max) – Tuomas Miettola (SibA) / Krishna Raman (USC)
  • Allura – Olivia Kyllönen (SibA) / Christine Marie Li (USC)
  • Borys Slykovitch – Luke Scott (SibA) / Lorenzo Zapata (USC)
  • Bear, Dosimeter 1, Robot 1, Firefighter 1 – Iris Candelaria (SibA) / Sunwoo Park (USC)
  • Elk, Babusya, Voice, Ihor – Ruut Mattila (SibA) / Elisabet Petsalo
  • Hare, Kuzma, Town Cryer – Jasper Leppänen (SibA)
  • Berehnia, Yulia, Voice, Dosimeter 3, Robot 3, Firefighter 3 – Stella Tähtinen (SibA)
  • Mavka, Nadyia,Voice, Dosimeter 2, Robot 2, Firefighter 2 – Maija Turunen
  • Elena, Elk, Soldier, Townspeople – Isabella Shaw

Follow the blog

In our blog you can follow the progress of this joint effort, get to know the key people, read professional articles and join the discussion about topics connected to the relations between opera and the environment. 

The associated Environmental Opera Reseach conference

On 18 March 2022, in connection with Helsinki performances, we will organise an international conference to highlight the current issues on relationships between arts and environment. In this international event we ask what eco-sensitive opera research might look like, and how it could respond to the environmental crisis theoretically.

Project name

All the Truths We Cannot See: A Chernobyl Story

Time

01/2020-05/2022

Funder

Jane and Aatos Erkko Foundation

Team

  • Uljas Pulkkis, composition
  • Glenda Dawn Goss, libretto
  • Ken Cazan, director
  • Markus Lehtinen/Brent McMunn, conducting
  • David Jacques, stage and lighting design
  • Sean Cawelti, video production design
  • Pia Lasonen, costume design
  • Riina Laine, make-up design, body painting artist

Collaborators

USC Thornton School of Music

Lead organisation

Department of Vocal Music

Contact

Mirka Rättyä, producer, +358 50 526 2005, mirka.rattya@uniarts.fi

Markus Lehtinen, professor, +358 40 5651547, markus.lehtinen@uniarts.fi

Damien Elwood, Opera Program Manager, USC Thornton, tel: 213.740.6451, damien.elwood@usc.edu